Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin took final action on 17 pieces of legislation pending from the reconvened legislative session, signing 12 and vetoing five.
The legislation ranged from energy to medical marijuana. The governor celebrated the General Assembly voting approving nearly all of his amendments. Youngkin expressed disappointment for a few pieces of legislation rejected by the Assembly – mainly a key piece of energy legislation and the protection of minors regarding social media.
Dominion Energy, the Office of the Attorney General, and other stakeholders have announced a tentative settlement agreement over how the utility will pay for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) Project. The agreement, which still needs approval from the State Corporation Commission, would allow the utility to bill some cost overruns in the project to consumers, but sets a cap along with some protections for the utility’s shareholders who would otherwise bear the burden. Attorney General Jason Miyares said that’s a win for consumers, and the utility said the agreement balances financial impacts.
“I am pleased that we have achieved consumer protections never seen before in modern Virginia history,” Miyares said in a press release. “For the first time Dominion has significant skin in the game to ensure that the project is delivered on budget. Should the project run materially over budget, it will come out of Dominion’s pocket, not consumers’. If approved by the State Corporation Commission [SCC], this agreement provides first-of-its-kind protections for Virginia consumers. A wide range of stakeholders support this agreement. I especially want to thank the Sierra Club and Appalachian Voices for joining, as well as Virginia’s largest private employer, Walmart. This landmark agreement means that Virginia will be a national leader in offshore renewable energy for years to come and most importantly in a fiscally responsible way.”
Virginia Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and West Virginia Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay) are partnering to create a framework to bring advanced nuclear technology to their states. West Virginia has recently repealed a ban on developing nuclear energy sources, and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin recently called for a “moonshot” — constructing a small modular reactor in southwest Virginia. In addition to addressing energy needs, leaders are hoping the push will bring economic and technological development to the economically-challenged areas.
“Virginia has been the beneficiary of nuclear power for many years,” Gilbert said in a Thursday press release. “Nothing works harder, longer, safer, or more reliably than a nuclear power plant. Small nuclear reactors are the next wave of energy technology, and Virginia should be an East Coast hub for its development and deployment. It’s important that rural and economically challenged areas, and the Commonwealth of Virginia as a whole, benefit from the innovation, jobs, and investment small modular nuclear technology will bring to the electric grid.”
Governor Glenn Youngkin wants to add more nuclear power generation in Virginia, calling for the construction of a reactor in Southwest Virginia as part of the 2022 energy plan. Energy plans are issued by each governor as a statement of the administration’s priorities and recommendations.
“I want to plant a flag right now. I want to call our moonshot. Virginia will launch a commercial small modular reactor [SMR] that will be serving customers with baseload power demand in southwest Virginia within the next 10 years,” Youngkin said at the Monday presentation.
The State Corporation Commission approved a Dominion Energy request to increase the fuel factor charged to consumers, leading to $14.93 increase on an average monthly bill. In May, the utility requested the increase citing increased fuel costs.
In its order, the SCC said, “[T]he Commission notes its awareness of the ongoing rise in gas prices, inflation, and other economic pressures that are impacting all utility customers. We are sensitive to the effects of rate increases, especially in times such as these. The Commission, however, must follow the laws applicable to this case, as well as the findings of fact supported by the evidence in the record. This is what we have done herein.”
RICHMOND, Virginia — The General Assembly reconvened for one day on Wednesday to elect four judges to circuit, district, and juvenile courts, but didn’t fill a vacancy on the three-member State Corporation Commission. Senate Republicans abstained on one vote to appoint current District Court Judge Matthew Parke Snow to the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court. Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) criticized Snow’s links to Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj.
Snow and Biberaj used to practice criminal defense and civil law together in Leesburg. Biberaj has come under fire from Republicans for embracing a progressive prosecutorial philosophy.
The Virginia State Corporation Commission approved applications from Dominion Energy for its proposed Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project to feature 176 wind turbines 27 miles off Virginia’s coast, although the project still needs federal approvals.